Krishnamurti declined to discuss which handset makers VMware is talking with at this time, but noted that the hypervisor will appear in smart phones first before regular cell phones. VMware is also working with ISVs to develop applications and virtual appliances that will take advantage of these virtual machines.
"This virtualization layer that we have is just like the one on the server and desktops, and it will allow customers to run multiple virtual environments on the phone," said Krishnamurti. "We think there are some interesting use cases. One is that many people have one phone for work and another is a personal phone. With virtualization, you can have one device that runs both environments in two isolated virtual machines. The work profile and the personal profile are completely separated."
With the VMware MVP platform, the hypervisor will sit bare metal on a smart phone the same way VMware's ESXi server sits on top of a server. The hypervisor then decouples the software in each virtual environment from the underlying hardware. In this case, the VMware hypervisor will work with devices based on ARM processors, including devices based on the newer ARM Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 chips.
Right now, the VMware MVP platform will support a number of mobile devices based on Linux, Windows CE and Symbian, which is now owned by Nokia. Later, Krishnamurti said, VMware will add support for Google's Android operating system.
The use of open operating systems such as Symbian and Android is important, since many handset vendors do not publish APIs for their own proprietary operating systems but users are demanding that more applications work on their smart phones.
"Those guys have a lot of ISVs writing applications for those open operating systems, and so the handset vendors are starting to say, -If I deploy an open operating system, then my customers can have a lot of content that they can use on the phone,'" said Krishnamurti. "So they are moving away from these proprietary operating systems to these rich operating systems."
At the same time, handset vendors can use the virtualization technology to isolate certain custom services, such as digital rights management and billing software, from the richer operating systems.
When it comes to the handset market, King believes that most of the energy from application developers is being focused right now on Apple's iPhone and the Google Android. King expects that iPhone and Android might be ripe for what VMware is offering.
The move by VMware into the handset market is also part of CEO Paul Maritz's vision for the company as virtualization moves deeper into data center management, especially as cloud computing comes into its own.
At the VMworld conference in September, Maritz discussed VMware View, which will allow an IT department to deliver an application to a number of different devices, including handset devices.